Background reading for law students interested in public interest and pro bono:
1. "Securing Equal Justice for All: A Brief History of Civil Legal Assistance in the United States"
This booklet produced by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) provides a fascinating overview of
how the civil legal service model developed, why it works, why it doesn't and examines how lawyers in both the private and public sectors can participate in public service.
2. "Gideon's Trumpet" by Anthony Lewis (Random House, 1964).
A (very readable) history of the United States Supreme Court case "Gideon v. Wainwright" (1963), which held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to extend the Sixth Amendment right to counsel to all including the indigent. This case serves as the foundation for the public defender system.
3. "Access to Justice" by Deborah L. Rhode (Oxford University Press, 2004).
Stanford law professor and pro bono guru, Deborah Rhode, analyzes the current model for disseminating legal services to the poor then proposes a number of possible solutions seeking to redress
the weaknesses in the system.
4. Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 6.1
Says that "Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay." Read the entire Rule and related Commentary at (http://www.abanet.org/cpr/mrpc/rule_6_1.html). See also the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service (http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/probono/)